Title: ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY
Author: JOANNE VANNICOLA
Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, MENTAL HEALTH, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, LGBTQIA
Length: 232 PAGES
Publisher: DUNDURN PRESS
Received From: NETGALLEY
Release Date: JUNE 25, 2019
Price: $19.99 USD
Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Joanne Vannicola grew up in a violent home with a physically abusive father and a mother who had no sexual boundaries.
After Joanne is pressured to leave home at fourteen, encouraged by her mother to seek out an acting career, she finds herself in a strange city, struggling to cope with her memories and fears. She makes the decision to cut her mother out of her life, and over the next several years goes on to create a body of work as a successful television and film actor. Then, after fifteen years of estrangement, Joanne learns that her mother is dying. Compelled to reconnect, she visits with her, unearthing a trove of devastating secrets.
Joanne relates her journey from child performer to Emmy Award–winning actor, from hiding in the closet to embracing her own sexuality, from conflicted daughter and sibling to independent woman. All We Knew But Couldn’t Say is a testament to survival, love, and Joanne’s fundamental belief that it is possible to love the broken, and to love fully, even with a broken heart.
*** WARNING – TRIGGER WARNING***
This book contains scenes of child sexual abuse and physical abuse of children. If any of these topics cause emotional triggers for you, I strongly suggest you do not read this book.
There are many memoirs that contain disturbing subject matter and ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY is no exception. However, the difference between other memoirs and that of Canadian Joanne Vannicola is that Joanne somehow managed to live through her horrific childhood and yet still emerge into adulthood full of compassion for others. Rather than allow her abusers to keep her ‘small,’ she has gone on to have a phenomenal career. To my way of thinking, Joanne being happy and successful is the best revenge. Her strength and determination are a big “F” you to her abusers. She didn’t let them win.
Not only that, but she has also become an advocate for LGBTQ youth. According to Joanne, “[Her] role meant [Joanne] could impact their lives, provide a little hope for others even though [she] still hadn’t learned to hold on to it [herself]…and it provided a deeper purpose…”
Joanne says in the book:
“I could not erase my own pain, but if I could help other kids, it meant healing was possible.”
This memoir is powerful. It is horrific in parts, especially when readers learn how Joanne was treated as a child, but it also includes some wonderful and touching moments and shows the power of friendship.
I do not want to give away too much with my review because I am hoping that everyone who reads this review runs out to buy/pre-order a copy of ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY.
YES, this book will make you shake in anger at the people who were supposed to love Joanne the most, but who turned out to be the perpetrators of her abuse, BUT I BELIEVE THIS IS A BOOK THAT NEEDS TO BE READ.
There are children suffering at this very moment, and people who see these things happening are often afraid to call Children’s Aid in case they are wrong. BUT … What if a child dies or suffers irreparable harm because you did not make that simple phone call? How would you feel? Could you ever forgive yourself?
PLEASE MAKE THE CALL. If it is determined that there was no abuse, then you can rest easy knowing you did the right thing. A bit of embarrassment is nothing when a child’s life and/or his/her mental health is on the line.
This book is not only about abuse. It is also about growing up and trying to come to terms with your sexuality. Joanne came of age not too long ago, but it was long ago enough that being gay, bisexual, trans, or queer was not acceptable to society at large. In fact, the phrase “non-binary” did not even exist. People kept their sexual orientations quiet and this fact made Joanne question what exactly was “wrong” with her. This memoir follows her journey from questioning her sexuality to accepting it and to become an advocate and role model for other LGBTQ youth.
Joanne’s life has been full of pain and agony, but it has also been a life filled with many triumphs, including her winning the her battle with anorexia.
I could go on and on about how amazing Joanne Vannicola is (all based on her book as I have not met her yet.) Instead, I will encourage everyone reading this review to pre-order her book immediately. Don’t wait to do it. Order it immediately. You will not be disappointed. ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY is a 5+ Star Book and you will continue to think about Joanne and her life long after the final page has been read. It is impossible not to. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joanne Vannicola is an Emmy award-winning Canadian actor and writer, who has been working in film, television, and theatre since she was eight years old. She has also been nominated for a Genie, a Gemini, and an ACTRA award.
Joanne is a long-time advocate for the LGBTQ community and has an essay in the anthology Cuarenta y Nueve, a book by 49 artists for the 49 victims of the Orlando Pulse club massacre. She is the Chair of the first LGBTQ+ committee for the actors union, ACTRA, and sits on the sexual assault ad-hoc committee at ACTRA for women in film and television.
Joanne’s forthcoming memoir, All We Knew but Couldn’t Say (Dundurn Press) will be available 1 June 2019.
She is a recipient of the Ontario Arts Council Grant in 2016—Writer’s Works in Progress for her memoir. Joanne was selected for the Diaspora Dialogues Program in 2013 and worked with author David Layton for six months. Her short screenplay His Name Was Steven, was selected for the Queer Ideas Screenplay competition.
Joanne founded the non-profit organization, Youth Out Loud, between 2004-2009, to raise awareness about child abuse and sexual violence.
Equity issues have always been at the forefront of Joanne’s work both in her artistic world and in her personal/political life and she is very passionate about youth, women, and LGBTQ equity and rights.
To learn more about Joanne Vannicola visit the following links:
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Author: STEPHANIE LAND
Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS
Length: 288 PAGES
Publisher: HACHETTE BOOKS
Received From: NETGALLEY
Release Date: JANUARY 22, 2019
Price: $27.00 USD (HARDCOVER)
Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land’s memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.
While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work–primarily done by women–fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s inequitable society.
While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren’t being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans.
Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes. With this book, she gives voice to the “servant” worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.
There are some books, when you finish reading them, you realize that you have just experienced something profoundly important. MAID is one of these rare gems.
Stephanie Land tells the story of her life as an impoverished single mother. This is NOT a story that takes place during the Great Depression of the 1930s, it is a true story taking place in modern day America.
What struck me most about this memoir was Stephanie’s ability to tell the story in a matter of fact way and to somehow detach herself from the emotions she must have inevitably felt while writing – all the while ensuring that she conveyed those same feelings to the reader. This ability proves Stephanie Land is a rare talent. If I did not know better, I would have thought this was the author’s fifth or sixth published work and not her debut book.
This is NOT a tale of ‘poor me.’ Stephanie does not whine about the state of her finances or the shabby conditions she lived in. She may have been poor, but she was not just sitting around collecting welfare and living the high life, which is a stereotype that is pervasive throughout society.
Reading this book will open people’s eyes to a situation all too common in America today. That is the plight of the “working poor.”
I have heard many people say that those who are receiving government assistance are all lazy and are living the high life thanks to the government. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Yes, I am sure that some people are gaming the system, but the vast majority are people who need a hand up, not a hand out. They are working, but their income is insufficient to pay their bills.
This book should be required reading for everyone who has ever made a comment about people on welfare. It should definitely be required reading for politicians at all levels of government from municipal leaders all the way up to the President. Maybe, just maybe, this would open their eyes to the reality of the lives of many of their constituents.
MAID is written in such a way that it is a book you will not want to put down. Just because it is a true story does not make it a boring read. In fact, it is anything but.
Stephanie’s dream of becoming a writer has come true and the world is better off because of it.
I rate MAID as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
If you only read one non-fiction memoir this year, make sure it is this one. You will be glad you did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Stephanie Land’s work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, Washington Post, Guardian; Vox, Salon, and many other outlets.
She focuses on social and economic justice as a writing fellow through both the Center for Community Change and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.
Her memoir, MAID: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, is forthcoming through editor Krishan Trotman at Hachette Books, featuring a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich, on January 29, 2019.
She lives in Missoula, Montana, with her two daughters.
To learn more about this author and her wonderfully written debut memoir, visit the following links:
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